Brrr! Apparently winter arrived early. It is Tuesday evening as I write this and yes, we had snow flurries here in Cedar Grove. It's going to be chilly the next few days, but fortunately you've got a boxful of veggies that need cooking.....just the thing to warm up our homes with! In “celebration” of the cold weather, I'm giving all soup recipes (and yeah, there is one for lettuce soup). The leeks are the last of the “summer” types, meaning they are light green, tall and skinny (“winter” leeks are bluish-green, short and fat; you'll see those for Thanksgiving). In my opinion, almost any soup is made better by using leeks in lieu of onions, just make sure to wash them thoroughly. For greens, we continue to have a bumper spinach harvest but this will probably be the last week for chard (see recipe below). Likewise the cauliflower continues to amaze us with its bounty, but this is the last of the broccoli (see recipe below). You will find more heirloom lettuce heads; regular shares receiving either pointy Devil's Ears or romaine Rouge d'Hiver, while full shares receive one head each of green Deer Tongue and red Salad Bowl. The lettuces again have not been washed so give them a thorough dunk before eating.
What's going on at the farm?
Once we saw the forecast for this week (lows near 20 at night....yikes!), we sprang into action, grabbed rolls of row cover, and covered the most susceptible crops. The row cover is a giant piece of fabric made of spun polypropylene and depending on the thickness can provide various levels of frost protection to crops (you can use old bed sheets or blankets in your home garden). Once laid over the plants, the row cover must be secured to the ground or the wind will blow it away! We use mesh bags filled with gravel or sometimes simply shovel piles of dirt on the row cover edges to keep it in place. It is definitely a multi-person job especially on windy days. Come Friday morning, we will uncover the fields and see how well the row cover protected the plants. Some freeze damage is ok; for example, it doesn't matter if the cauliflower leaves get damaged so long as the head itself is unblemished. Same thing for the carrots; the tops might die back but the roots should remain well-protected in the ground.
Holds/Double Boxes: Just a reminder to let us know if you need to hold your box for a week (e.g. going out of town). You may schedule a double box for any of the remaining weeks of the fall CSA (last delivery is 12/18). According to my records, the following families have yet to schedule an double box: Barrington, Lohmann, Marston, Misiura, Pelligra, Perkowski.
Next week look forward to carrots sweetened by the cold weather!
Beth, Elise, & Trish
Chard or Spinach Soup with Sorrel or Lemon
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
2 Tbl butter
1 onion or 2 medium leeks, white parts only, chopped
3 red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch chard or spinach, stems removed, about 10 cups leaves
2 cups sorrel leaves, stems removed, OR juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
½ cup cooked rice or small toasted croutons
(I think this recipe represents how easy it is to modify or substitute ingredients in soup) Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions or leeks and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color, about 8 minutes. Add ½ cup water and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add the greens and 1½ tsp salt. As soon as they wilt down, after 5 minutes or so, add 6½ cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for 12-15 minutes. Puree the soup, taste for salt and season with pepper. If you didn't use sorrel, add the lemon juice. Mix the crème fraiche with some of the soup to thin it, then swirl into the soup. Serve with rice or croutons in each bowl.
Pureed Vegetable Soup
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
2 Tbl butter
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into thin rings
1½ lb chopped cauliflower or broccoli
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 Tbl chopped fresh chervil or parsley for garnish
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat so that the stock bubbles gently and cook, stirring occassionally, until it thickens slightly and the vegetables are fully tender, 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot, or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender and puree CAREFULLY.
Creamy Lettuce Soup
1 head lettuce, leaves separated
2 Tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbl dried parsley (or ¼ cup fresh, chopped parsley)
2 tsp dried oregano
½ cup heavy cream plus more for garnish
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Heat olive oil on medium-low heat in pot. Add the garlic until slightly brown. Add the lettuce, parsley and oregano and stir until lettuce is wilted. Add chicken broth and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Puree using immersion blender or let cool slightly and pour into blender and puree CAREFULLY. Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with additional heavy cream on top if desired.
Leeks (1 lb)
Leeks (1½ lb)